This Dad Doesn't Like To Play With His Kids...

Illustration for article titled This Dad Doesn't Like To Play With His Kids...

...and that's hilarious, you see!

It should be said that this is merely a corollary to a light-hearted article by author Tom Hodgkinson railing against the tyranny of expensive "outings" and promoting the joys of staying at home with kids. Or, as he puts it,

One happy day, I sat in the armchair reading my William Morris biography while Henry played on the floor with his toy tractors, Delilah cut up bits of paper, and Arthur read The Beano. Later I found myself making a pair of sunglasses out of a cereal packet with Delilah.


Indeed. His friend "James" takes another approach:

Fertile neglect is the name of that policy: leaving the boy to his own devices so I can pursue mine and he can develop those solitary skills that will serve him in future airports, waiting rooms and prisons. It came about simply because I found actual down-at-his-level waving-tiny-figurines PLAYING to be, for some reason, soul-destroying-the arbitrary and despotic movements of the child-mind and all that. Bonus side effect: when you do consent, in moments of magnanimity, to lower yourself to their play-level they are incredibly grateful.

This is, one presumes, humorous. I hope. Because it's quite bad enough to not get to spend time with one's dad - because of work, divorce, responsibilities, any number of realities. To have him there - but unwilling to spend time with you - must be great for a small child's self-esteem! Poor guy, one can hardly expect him to enjoy playing with his own children - it's not like one can obtain joy from watching a child's pleasure! No, only those arrested types who enjoy playing with toddler toys can actually bear this sort of thing. And he's absolutely right; God forbid your child take your attention for granted! One can only imagine how effective his mind games are with women!

I get it: dads want to get in on the trend of exploding domesticity myths. Raising kids isn't all sunshine and Full House-style learning and growing. But for some reason it's different when it comes from a father; we don't yet, as a society, take their involvement enough for granted for this to be funny. A dad emotionally neglecting his kids? Not comedic. Maybe it's a double-standard, fellas - and that, we've heard, is rough.

The Idle Parent [Slate]


Phillipa Marlowe

I'll share my dad story too. It involves Barbies. He didn't 'play' with me much, but we did spend a lot of time together - teaching me how to bike, rolling down the hill in our backyard, raking leaves - but on the occasion when I think my mom probably forced him to 'play', I only wanted him to play Barbies with me because, as an only child, I didn't have anyone to play with (I guess my mom didn't play either...). I always gave him the Mom Barbie. It was totally fun and interesting to me, but I gotta wonder how my dad felt about that!

My parents didn't have to entertain me all the time and because of this I was, and am, an avid reader and very introspective. I think that's pretty okay. My sister, on the other hand, was doted on and was a very high-maintenance child, and she needs constant social stimulation and hates reading. She didn't even finish Twilight, and she's 15.